FAIR HIGHLIGHTS NYCHA EFFORTS, FROM TECH HELP TO CARE-GIVING

By Gus Saltonstall

NYCHA recently hosted the NextGen Resource Fair at the Wise Towers Courtyard (90th between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenue), an upbeat event featuring everything from a DJ playing music to information about jobs and care-giving programs for NYCHA residents.

The aim of the fair was to provide residents with information about local opportunities, city services and NYCHA programs, and to highlight NYCHA’s plan to “preserve, repair and protect critical Upper West Side affordable housing.”

Over 400,000 New Yorkers live in NYCHA’s 326 public housing developments across the five boroughs, and an additional 235,000 residents receive subsidized rental assistance in private homes through the NYCHA Section 8 Leased Housing Program. NYCHA is home to 1 in 14 New Yorkers, according to this fact sheet.

NYCHA’s footprint on the Upper West Side is large as well—there are 13 NYCHA buildings between just 84th Street and 105th Street, housing some 5,105 people.

Among those at the fair were a slew of elected officials and their representatives. The event was co-sponsored by Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Brian Benjamin, Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell, and Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

All of the co-sponsoring elected officials had representatives armed with information on what their offices have been working on recently and how different NYCHA programs can serve residents.

Brewer and Rosenthal attended the fair in person. Brewer spoke passionately on the need to improve daily life for NYCHA residents, while Rosenthal stayed at the fair for the entire five hours talking to people and hearing their concerns. NYCHA outreach has become an issue in the Upper West Side’s upcoming City Council race, with challenger Mel Wymore claiming Rosenthal hasn’t done enough to solve problems in public housing.

“The importance of the fair is that the resources were on display in the open, on the plaza, with knowledgeable staff to answer questions. NYCHA and the non-profits it works with have lots to offer, but they don’t always share the information in the most accessible and welcoming fashion. The resource fair was fun, outside, so easy to get to, and included the top leadership from NYCHA,” Brewer said.

One local resident attending the fair who asked not be named spoke emphatically about the event. “Oh yes, it’s good to see everybody out here today. My favorite program is the Going Digital NYCHA Mobile Computer Lab. It gives wi-fi and helps with different aspects of the home.”

Others said that the fair doesn’t change the fact that NYCHA is overlooked and under-resourced.

“My wife’s been here for 50 years and this fair should been done a long time ago,” said resident Darrell Miller. “There’s not a lot of service in any of these buildings, and they all need to be policed better. Bad things happen all the time, with people defecating in the elevators, marijuana everywhere. It takes two years to get a bathroom fixed, and nothing ever changes.”

Delays in repairs have been a chronic problem at NYCHA. Mayor de Blasio invested $1 billion earlier this year to try to speed things up.

NYCHA Programs with tables at the fair included:

“Today is no different than any other day for us—we want to keep bringing the resource fair to other NYCHA housing throughout the Upper West Side and connecting people with one another,” said Marisa Maack, Rosenthal’s chief of staff. “More than anything, though, we’re here to listen to the residents and try our best to help in whatever they might need.”

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